News24

Brazil deploys military as police strike

2012-02-06 14:44

Salvador de Bahia - Brazilian authorities deployed 3 500 soldiers to bring order to a northern coastal town in the wake of a local police strike.

The murder rate in Salvador de Bahia has more than doubled to 84 in the five days since the police went on strike on Tuesday night, demanding better pay and working conditions, local news reports said.

"By the end of today, around 3 500 troops will be en route [to Salvador] by air and by land," General Enzo Martins Peri, the country's army commander, said on Sunday, adding that the federal government was determined to support the local authorities.

The national authorities have called the police action irresponsible and criminal, and a court has ordered the striking officers to return to work.

About 40 members of a special police unit travelled to Salvador de Bahia on Sunday with orders to arrest 12 of the strike's leaders, one of whom handed himself in.

More robberies

The president of the city's Legislative Assembly, Marcelo Nila, called on the armed forces to evict the striking policemen from the assembly's building, where they were encamped.

"Legislative work must go back to normal," he said. "The assembly cannot be used as a refuge for fugitives from justice."

Robberies and assaults have also risen in the city of 2.7 million people since the start of the strike.

But as temperatures reached 30° over the weekend, sun lovers crowded the popular tourist destination's beaches as soldiers patrolled the promenades with automatic weapons.

Salvador de Bahia's annual street carnival, one of Brazil's largest street parties, was due to start in two weeks.